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  1. exetor999 is offline exetor999
    Feb 1, 2012, 11:34 AM - Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #1

    Being a newbie here, I am amazed at the amount of information that you guys have on this site. That is why I wanted to bring up this discussion here, because someone here may know the truth.
    On another site there was a discussion about the TOS captain's chair that was sold for 300,000.00, which showed pictures of the chair at auction. Some
    people were saying that it was fake, and would never sell, etc. but nobody had any proof of it being real or not.
    The center chair looked exactly like the one on the show, but from what I have seen here, you guys can reproduce just about anything, exactly like the original.
    My point here is that the arms of the chair that was sold, where the captain has push buttons on the right hand, and rocker switchs on the left hand, on the chair that was sold, there are no holes on either right or left sides.
    According to the person selling it on auction, there were no modifications made to the chair, and the inside looked pretty real to me, but I just don't know.
    I know that the push buttons that Kirk pushed, had about 1/2 inch below the surface of the arm, and the rocker switchs did about the same, so there would have to be holes cut there.
    And in at least one episode, I remember Kirk pulling one of those square recording disks out of the slot behind the push buttons, and there is no hole for that either.
    So, I took the position that the chair was fake.

    What do you guys think?
  2. SciFiMuseum's Avatar
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    Feb 1, 2012, 12:46 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #2

    I will tell you that I believe the chair is the real thing, I live up here in Seattle and have seen the chair up close, I know the curator at the museum and we have talked about it. The chair was modified many times as the seasons went on so the button configuration changes throughout the series. When it was acquired after filming the buttons on the right hand side (your left) were missing and it was filled in by the then owner-not Paul Allen. I am quite sure if Paul had it restored it would have been a lot closer to the condition it was on TOS. He is displaying it as is. The B9 however he had restored because it was literally falling apart.

    ***On a side note I am the proud owner of the screen-used TOS style Captain's chair from DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" now! We picked it up last year when the person who bought it at the Christie's auction sold it through Prop Store of London...
  3. exetor999 is offline exetor999
    Feb 1, 2012, 3:14 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #3

    Well, when the chair was being auctioned, it claimed that there were no modifications done to this chair, at all, ever. Everyone knows that any modification on a classic prop or set piece would be like putting bondo on a classic Corvette, it is just not done.
    This was supposed to be the original chair, but there was no sign of the hole that was made for the flexineck viewscreen that Pike had on his captains chair, I looked inside the right hand arm piece, and there was no hole, or any sign of there ever having been a hole.
    That was what set me off right from the beginning.
    And why would someone putty up only some of the holes, and not all of the holes?
    Just doesnt make sense.
  4. RPF Premium Member
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    Feb 1, 2012, 6:43 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #4

    Bob Justman, Gene Roddenberry and I think Matt Jeffries signed off on the Chair being the real deal.

    Bob and Matts word I will take Gene forget it!

    Initially I thought it was fake but without seeing it in person I can't really be for sure
  5. exetor999 is offline exetor999
    Feb 2, 2012, 10:46 AM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #5

    Well, I did see it in person, that was what I was wondering about. I didn't get just a quick look inside, from the back, and I noticed how pristine the wood was inside. Matt didn't sign off on it, and Gene was long passed away by the time of the auction. Bob Justman didn't have anything to do with the sets, per se, so I wouldn't trust anything that he would have to say.
    But the inside of the chair did look old, but almost TOO old, like it had been made to look that way. And the photo that I saw of the inside right side of the arm, showed two clear bulbs, with the housings. But if Kirk was to push the first 'intercom' button, and the light next to it lights up, then the entire row of lights would light up. Those 5 or 6 lights would have to have their own separate lights, in housings to keep them from lighting up the whole inside of the right side arm. There is no reason for these two lights to be there.
    And, if you don't see any holes, or putty remains inside of the chair, then it cannot be the original.
    Wish I knew how to post pictures here, so you can see what I mean
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    Feb 2, 2012, 12:05 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #6

    Interesting, I thought Gene had told the Original owner that the the chair was real way before the auction but I am probably mistaken, hell I thought Matt signed off on it too.

    Bob Justman saw the chair enough times on the set so that is why his opinion holds a lot of weight.

    Regardless a fun topic to discuss I'm surprised few have commented

    You know what would be really ineresting is to see what John Dwyer thinks about it.




    exetor999 said: View Post
    Well, I did see it in person, that was what I was wondering about. I didn't get just a quick look inside, from the back, and I noticed how pristine the wood was inside. Matt didn't sign off on it, and Gene was long passed away by the time of the auction. Bob Justman didn't have anything to do with the sets, per se, so I wouldn't trust anything that he would have to say.
    But the inside of the chair did look old, but almost TOO old, like it had been made to look that way. And the photo that I saw of the inside right side of the arm, showed two clear bulbs, with the housings. But if Kirk was to push the first 'intercom' button, and the light next to it lights up, then the entire row of lights would light up. Those 5 or 6 lights would have to have their own separate lights, in housings to keep them from lighting up the whole inside of the right side arm. There is no reason for these two lights to be there.
    And, if you don't see any holes, or putty remains inside of the chair, then it cannot be the original.
    Wish I knew how to post pictures here, so you can see what I mean
    Last edited by Apollo; Feb 2, 2012 at 12:11 PM.
  7. Treadwell's Avatar
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    Feb 2, 2012, 12:39 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #7

    As I recall the switched out button panel was indeed mentioned in the auction.

    As for authentication, I think a well-made replica would've easily fooled both Roddenberry and Justman. How closely would they have examined a prop chair back in the day? They spent 95% of their time in production offices, not pouring over set pieces.

    That said, I was more or less satisfied by the auction description that it was real. Not that I would really know...
  8. RPF Premium Member
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    Feb 2, 2012, 12:47 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #8

    Granted but some people vigoursly defended Justman stating his back ground in Law Enforcement.




    Treadwell said: View Post
    As for authentication, I think a well-made replica would've easily fooled both Roddenberry and Justman. How closely would they have examined a prop chair back in the day? They spent 95% of their time in production offices, not pouring over set pieces.
  9. SciFiMuseum's Avatar
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    Feb 2, 2012, 1:04 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #9

    Here is the original auction description:


    Command Chair and platform from the "U.S.S. Enterprise". The original Captain’s Chair from the bridge of the legendary starship, U.S.S. Enterprise. Constructed at the Desilu Culver Studios in November of 1964, this world-renowned chair was first used by actor Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike in the first pilot, The Cage and remained the focal point of the bridge throughout the entire series as Captain James T. Kirk’s seat of command.
    The original design for the bridge was the responsibility of Art Director Pato Guzman and Set Designer Walter “Matt” Jefferies (after the first pilot, Jefferies became the Art Director throughout the entire series). Although construction of the Enterprise sets was an orchestrated team effort, Special Effects Supervisor Jim Rugg and Matt Jefferies were the two primary personnel involved in its design and construction.

    The outer block-frame of the chair is crafted from plywood and painted battleship grey in color. The wide-spaced armrests contain the controls and switches used by Capt. Kirk to engage various functions of the starship. Set within the frame is the original Naugahyde-covered seat with stained wooden armrests. Of particular note, the distinctive pattern in a section of the wood grain perfectly matches the same section in a publicity still taken from the second pilot — in essence, a true “fingerprint” which positively identifies this piece as the one and only command chair.

    The chair is mounted to a spring-loaded swivel on the wooden pedestal base, which centers the chair after the Captain rises to either the left or right side. The rectangular base of the chair is covered in the original Ozite® carpet of the bridge!

    The left arm control panel and switches remain as they appeared on the final episode, Turnabout Intruder. [More than once, the crew changed the composition and layout of the control panels as dictated by the plot]. In a space beneath the panel are mounted four ceramic 25-watt light sockets surrounded with tinfoil to protect the surrounding wood from the heat. Mounted into the base of the chair is a power cord wired to the sockets and, when powered, would illuminate the colored epoxy resin buttons and switches (one of the epoxy resin “lights” is missing). On the right arm control panel, the owner reinstalled the original five white-button control unit.

    The base of the chair is 42 in. wide x 35 in. deep, and stands 9 1/4 in. tall. The chair itself is 39 in. wide (from arm to arm), with a 25 3/4 in. tall backrest. The seat of the chair is 14 in. from the floor of the base.

    The current owner picked up the chair and accompanying set pieces (Lots 176-183) in 1969 after he received a call from a friend who worked at Paramount Pictures, alerting him to the fact that the entire Star Trek set was being scrapped and that if he was interested, he was welcome to get whatever items he wanted before they were thrown away. That same day in 1969, the owner picked up the chair and the other bridge set pieces offered here. They have remained in his possession since that time.

    The command chair is accompanied by the following letters of authenticity:

    This chair was thoroughly scrutinized by Star Trek Art Director, Walter “Matt” Jefferies, who examined the components and the methods used in its construction. Mr. Jefferies certifies that it is the original chair that he helped design and build.

    Original Star Trek Producer Bob Justman states after his examination of the chair, “I have no doubt that this chair is the real thing, the one and only original ‘Star Trek’ series Captain’s chair from the bridge of the ‘U.S.S. Enterprise’…”

    Vice-President, Programs & Production, Desilu Studios and Executive In-Charge of Production of Star Trek, Herbert F. Solow states, “My skepticism vanished when I saw and examined the chair. It is the real thing, a combination of 1960’s wood metal, wires, bulbs, plastic, paint and Naugahyde that sat in its special place on the bridge of the ‘USS Enterprise’ and was a major part of the production of our groundbreaking television series.”

    Marc Hurd, Director, Technical Operations, Technical and Production Operations, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, assisted his personal friend and colleague (the owner) in picking up the Captain’s chair from the Star Trek set at Paramount Pictures before it was thrown away, and states that it has remained in his possession since 1969. He continues by stating, “Without hesitation and with absolute certainty, I certify that this chair, now being offered for auction by Profiles in History, is the one and only Captain’s chair from the Star Trek USS Enterprise Bridge set.”

    The command chair is visible in literally every single episode and is, without question, one of the most important discoveries in the history of television memorabilia. The provenance is indisputable. In addition, this chair is 100% original from top to bottom with only one minor alteration to the arm panel.

    A true icon of entertainment history, this command chair also stands as a symbol of Star Trek’s influence on modern pop culture and real-life space exploration, and is arguably the most recognizable chair in the world.

    This item will be sold in a live auction at the specified time by the auction house.



    Preview is open by appointment only at our Beverly Hills offices, weekdays from Monday, June 17, 2002 through Tuesday, June 25, 2002 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please call (310) 859-7701 to schedule an appointment.
  10. RPF Premium Member
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    Feb 2, 2012, 2:21 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #10

    Thanks Sci-Fi.

    I got Matt, Gene, and Bob confused with Matt, Gene, and Herb!
  11. SciFiMuseum's Avatar
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    Feb 2, 2012, 2:37 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #11

    No problem. I just posted it so we can all examine it.
  12. micdavis is offline micdavis
    Feb 2, 2012, 3:01 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #12

    I examined the chair at Profiles.

    Despite some of the stories I've heard over the years. I believed it to be real.

    There were details inside that I would find hard to believe would have thought of to be duplicated.

    The only discernable change in the controls during the series came just before the episode Courtmartial.

    They changed the right side domes from all green, and one button to 5 buttons and five domes. Three domes to match the "ejecting the pod" controls needed in that episode.

    They remained that way until the end of the show.

    I also knew a guy who claimed to have seen the "arms" pulled off the chair at UCLA.

    Whether that was the controls or the wooden arms is a mystery.

    The "chair" itself is a real chair, a Madison, and could have been replaced easily.

    IF anything there is original it's the "cradle" that holds the Madison and the left side front light panel with the 3 domes and 6 wedges.

    I'd bet that is what is left.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 3:14 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #13

    I don't really understand the skepticism. The chair has a clear provenance beginning with a senior studio operations official; it has been authenticated by a person who designed and built it and by at least two other senior production members who would have seen it frequently for years; the woodgrain matches period photos; and, the chair didn't stand on its own but instead was put forward with at least 6 other production artifacts retrieved from the set. What more do people want, a forensic buttprint analysis?

    The chair did receive minor modifications over the years of production, which I suppose is a source of skepticism. But in addition to all the documentation and authenticating statements, we have a natural woodgrain which can be compared to high-resolution publicity photographs. This is basically a fingerprint, unique and a practical impossibility to fake if the period photographs capture enough detail and the woodgrain can be examined in person.
  14. micdavis is offline micdavis
    Feb 2, 2012, 3:49 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #14

    If there are such high-res comparisons, then Hallelujah!!!!

    It doesn't help that the people that have wrangled it in recent years never seem to be able to assemble it right.

    The Madison needs to sit farther back in the cradle so the front of the Madison arms create a gray triangle on the inside of the side consoles.

    Most of the time they just jam the thing in there and let it stick out the front.

    Shameful. I tried to tell them at the Museum, but they know everything apparently.
  15. micdavis is offline micdavis
    Feb 2, 2012, 3:59 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #15

    Xenophon1 said: View Post
    I don't really understand the skepticism.
    You don't huh?!?

    Two words for you.

    Mark English.

    Go look it up and come back an tell me we shouldn't always be skeptical.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 4:09 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #16

    micdavis said: View Post
    You don't huh?!?

    Two words for you.

    Mark English.

    Go look it up and come back an tell me we shouldn't always be skeptical.

    This piece has complete provenance from the studio set to the present. Bringing up Mark English here is about as relevant as bringing him up in a discussion of the authenticity of the items that came directly from Jefferies, or of Gerrold's tribble collection. The whole reason so many Mark English fakes circulate(d) as real was lack of provenance--which this item has, in addition to numerous testimonials directly from senior production members, and unique woodgrain which can be compared to vintage photos.
    Last edited by Xenophon1; Feb 2, 2012 at 4:18 PM.
  17. RPF Premium Member CessnaDriver's Avatar
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    Feb 2, 2012, 4:18 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #17

    The base carpet has a famous coffee stain doesn't it?
  18. micdavis is offline micdavis
    Feb 2, 2012, 4:23 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #18

    Sure, sure. Still, always a little skeptical of someone trying to sell something.

    It's not an indictment of falsehood. Just caution.
  19. exetor999 is offline exetor999
    Feb 2, 2012, 5:04 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #19

    I never thought of that, Treadwell, but you are right, most of the producers would have been in offices, and not on the sets.

    Two more pieces of information.

    After the auction, Matt Jefferies stated that he did NOT examine the chair at all.

    And, also after the auction, I was visiting a friend on the Paramount lot, told him of this situation, he then took me to see a very old man in the 'property' dept, with tables and chairs. This man, who's name was "Wes" something (I forgot), said that he was working there in the late 60's and early 70's, remembers the famous Star Trek chair being dismantled with axes and pry bars. He had a clear memory of it, but said that there was no middle chair, just the outside arms, base and pedistal.

    When my friend, Pete and I got an appointment to see the chair, we were not shown any "provenance"
    at all, but were told that the 'owner' would tell us the history of the chair, if we were the top bidder.

    Here are some pictures of what I am talking about.


    as you can see, the push buttons are in the wrong spot, no slot for the memory square thingy, and no hole for the lights, next to the push buttons.


    here you can see the rocker switches on top, and giant screwin lights below the lighted panels in front of the rockers. which would mean that the whole area would be lighted.


    Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but some of these facts seem very strange, and I was starting to wonder about this. Also, notice how every piece of information seems to hide who the owner of the chair was, at the time of the auction? stranger and stranger.
    Last edited by exetor999; Feb 2, 2012 at 5:52 PM.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 5:51 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #20

    exetor999 said: View Post
    After the auction, Matt Jefferies stated that he did NOT examine the chair at all.
    Can you point me to a reference for that? And if it's accurate, perhaps he means he examined photos and reference material pertaining to the chair rather than examining the chair in person. I find it hard to believe that PiH would explicitly state:

    "This chair was thoroughly scrutinized by Star Trek Art Director, Walter “Matt” Jefferies, who examined the components and the methods used in its construction. Mr. Jefferies certifies that it is the original chair that he helped design and build."

    if there were no truth in it. That's a very specific thing to say, not a general claim.

    And, also after the auction, I was visiting a friend on the Paramount lot, told him of this situation, he then took me to see a very old man in the 'property' dept, with tables and chairs. This man, who's name was "Wes" something (I forgot), said that he was working there in the late 60's and early 70's, remembers the famous Star Trek chair being dismantled with axes and pry bars. He had a clear memory of it, but said that there was no middle chair, just the outside arms, base and pedistal.
    This is exactly where healthy skepticism should come into play. In the case of the chair, there's support for its authenticity in the form of all the things enumerated above which to my mind at least satisfy reasonable skepticism. What support is there for the story of an unnamed random person which some other random person says he met at Paramount 30 years after the fact? There's nothing there to satisfy any reasonable skepticism.

    Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but some of these facts seem very strange, and I was starting to wonder about this.
    I too find it strange. Strange that random unnamed people who claim they saw something 30+ years ago are given more credence than Matt Jefferies, Bob Justman, Herb Solow, and the CBS Technical Operations Director Marc Hurd who states that he and a friend personally removed the chair from the studio and that this is the same chair. Strange indeed.

    Also, notice how every piece of information seems to hide who the owner of the chair was, at the time of the auction? stranger still!
    About that nothing at all is strange--it's standard procedure at all auction houses. Unless the value of an item derives from it having come directly from a particular person's estate, auction houses never state the name of consignors (or buyers, for that matter). Why would they? If you had something like this to consign for auction, would you want your name made public so that random people could come out of the woodwork bothering you to ask if you had anything else to sell, or looking you up to ask questions, or chewing you out with claims that you faked the item? I wouldn't want that. No, I'd remain anonymous. That's normal SOP, not strange at all.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 6:30 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #21

    exetor999 said: View Post
    as you can see, the push buttons are in the wrong spot, no slot for the memory square thingy, and no hole for the lights, next to the push buttons.

    We were told in the very auction description that this panel was reinstalled by the owner (which presumes that the panels on that arm had been removed by production to cannibalize parts, or by someone seeking a souvenir after the show wrapped), so none of this is surprising. If this chair were fake, why not fake it better and more completely? Surely someone who could source/fabricate the other panels present could have done the same for the parts you mention are so obviously missing/different? The panels on the other arm were altered throughout production, so it's not surprising to find those lamps there, either.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 6:33 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #22

    exetor999 said: View Post

    Here are some pictures of what I am talking about.


    as you can see, the push buttons are in the wrong spot, no slot for the memory square thingy, and no hole for the lights, next to the push buttons.
    You can see if you look around the edge of the left arm that a larger rectangle shape where something was filled in...where the original controls went.
  23. exetor999 is offline exetor999
    Feb 2, 2012, 6:49 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #23

    Actually, that was a personal conversation that I had with Matt Jefferies, shortly before his death. He knew nothing of the sale, but I guess you could also say that the meds he was taking for the cancer could have clouded his mind. And, as far as any documentation for the chair was concerned, and keeping the 'owner' secret, it wouldn't be the first time that an auction house padded an auction, nor would it be the first time that PiH had a problem with some of their auctions, even trek auctions. I recall several being pulled at the last minute due to replica props being sold as original.
    As for this "Wes" gentleman at the studio, I had happened to believe him, he wasn't foggy on his details, and remembered everything clearly. I could tell that he wasn't just making it up. But then, I guess that someone could have gotten all the dismembered pieces together, and repaired them.
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    Feb 2, 2012, 7:12 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #24

    I have been collecting Trek TOS since 1976 and as Mike pointed out mark English who fooled even greg jein when dealing with Trek TOS you HAVE to be skeptical or you can get burned REAL fast!

    As far as the Wood grain so what all that tells me is that the original madison still exists the rest could be fake.

    This still remains very controversial among TOS Collectors that I know and looks like it is still enjoying a healthy debate here.

    Xenophon1 said: View Post
    I don't really understand the skepticism.
  25. micdavis is offline micdavis
    Feb 2, 2012, 7:13 PM - Re: Star Trek TOS captain's chair, was it real? #25

    exetor999 said: View Post
    There is NO way the colored eight switch panel shown in this photo is original to the chair. It could be an original set of switches used elsewhere. But no way it's from the Chair. Wrong bezel.

    Find me a pic with that thick bezel on the Chair and I'll kiss you.

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